Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin won’t seek reelection in 2024, kicking off what may be a crowded primary to replace him in the blue state of Maryland.
“I am proud of all I have done for Maryland. I have given my heart and soul to our great state, and I thank Marylanders for trusting me as your representative for all these years.” Cardin, 79, said in a statement released by his office on Monday.
Cardin, an amiable rank-and-file Democrat, was first elected to the Senate in 2006 and quietly worked his way up to senior posts on the on Senate Foreign Relations, Finance, and Small Business committees. Before that, he represented Maryland in the House of Representatives and was a longtime state legislator.
Several Maryland House Democrats could jump into the race to succeed Cardin, including Reps. Jamie Raskin, John Sarbanes, and Kweisi Mfume. Former Rep. John Delaney, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, and former Rep. Donna Edwards are also potential candidates.
On the Republican side, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan would be a top-tier recruit for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Hogan, who was popular during his two terms in office, including among Democrats, recently announced he would not run for president in 2024.
Although Republicans would likely have a hard time flipping a seat in a blue stronghold, a quality candidate like Hogan would force Democrats to play defense and spend money in Maryland they’d otherwise prefer to use in other races defending vulnerable incumbents, such as Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) or Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.).
Democrats are still holding out hope that another veteran Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, makes her return to the upper chamber. The 89-year-old California lawmaker has been absent since February while she recovers from shingles.
Last month, Democrats tried to temporarily replace Feinstein with Cardin on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, but Republicans blocked that effort. Feinstein’s absence from the committee has contributed to Democrats’ inability to advance some judicial nominations. Republicans also passed a symbolic resolution last week seeking to repeal a key Biden administration climate rule because Feinstein wasn’t present.
In his statement announcing his retirement, Cardin said he would focus the remainder of his term on delivering “progress for the Chesapeake Bay, helping the people of Baltimore City deal with the challenges they face, and permanently expanding opportunities for telehealth, mental and behavioral health.”
“I plan to make the most of every moment left,” the senator said.